Through Ray’s eyes.
October 13, 2011 § 11 Comments
Today I’ll plant snow peas.
Dig up a patch for the Vidalia onions.
Thin the lettuce.
Even though no one will ask, I feel the need to justify getting up from this chair where I work all day writing stories, or arranging my next school author visit, or answering email from young readers.
He sometimes splits firewood or waters the garden, but he doesn’t feel the need to explain.
He goes because he loves the place.
He goes just to be there.
His time is now his own.
Camera hanging on one shoulder he rambles, or sits in the treehouse we built for the purpose of quiet sitting.
He is using the time that is now all his to observe the natural world most of us hurry through unseeing.
At least while he’s at Bluebird he seems unbothered by the internal chatter of being human.
He is able to watch the world at the speed of a spider or bee–even a patch of lichen.
To get a photo of the nicitating membrane in a bird’s eye, or the courtship of cranes, or the threat display of a baboon took patient hours of crouched watching, and the ability to become invisible to the animal he was photographing.
Ray has worked a half dozen professions since then, but now that the choice is his he’s returned to patient invisibility, camera in hand.
Day after day he is creating a photographic record of the life that abounds on our ten sandy acres. Hundreds and hundreds of shots are slowing his computer to a balky crawl, but he’ll keep right on downloading images until his hard drive melts. Before it does, here are a few of them.
We have allowed to take its own course growing weedy and chaotic.
Ray mows a few paths so we can walk around, but otherwise natural succession is creating a new landscape.
Before learning that random acts of nature could be counted on to bring in new plants we disked a three acre meadow and spread wildflower seeds much to the delight of the harvester ants that abound there.
The ants come to life as the sun warms the ground, wandering around as if confused—but they must get more efficient as the day goes on.
They gathered nearly all the seeds we had spread and enjoyed a fat winter. Only two flowers bloomed as the result of our efforts.
Without our help fleabane and liatris flowers now dot the meadow, along with an incredible variety of flowers my botanist friend, Karen, lumps under the single heading of GDYC (God Damn Yellow Composites)
Long leaf pines have sprouted there too. They remain in what is called “the grass stage” for several years, nothing but a stiff tuft of needles showing above ground as the pine develops a hardy root system.
Then, as if overnight, the “grass” bolts, to become a recognizable pine, a strategy designed to get the tree above the forest-fire zone as fast as possible.
I notice the new young trees standing sentinel in the meadow the way a tourist might.
Ray has watched them grow and photographed them day after day.
Ray’s reliable companion at Bluebird is not me, but our Australian Cattle Dog, Moo.
Moo rides out to our land with the same agenda as Ray–to catch up on what has gone on in the hours since the last visit.
Nose to the ground, she knows what creatures crossed our land during the night. Careless about boundaries she follows her nose off our land and through the broken fence onto the Corbett’s property where she runs the scent down or loses it–we never know. After a while the tink of her tags can be heard as she wanders back.
Moo curls up on the sofa cushion that is her bed and Ray tells me what is going on at the Bird.
He watched a spider cut a leaf out of her web. It tumbled down the web re-attaching itself again and again. Each time she patiently repeated the proceess, finally sitting proudly (even Ray can be a little anthropomorphic) in the center of the leaf-free web.
He found the scratches of foraging turkeys scarring the path by the tree house.
The gall wasp larvae are dropping from the oak galls.
It looks like it’s going to be a good acorn year.
Each of us knows this place in our own way.
Ray through quiet observation.
Moo by following her nose.
And me by the translating of our ten acres into words.
Maybe when I retire.
Note: Click on any photo to enlarge it.